Ship sailing in the smart port in Tallinn


  • Data and AI
  • Seamless Experiences


  • Industry

White Paper

Smart Port: Port innovation through the orchestration of data

The Smart Port solution, developed by Nortal, is the epitome of streamlined port management. By harnessing the power of service design, data, IoT, and automation, Nortal redesigned all interactions from digital environments to physical contact points at the harbor.

This solution actualizes truly streamlined port operations and a seamless customer journey from the digital ticket system up to the point of embarking.


Physical limitations of ports put a strain on the efficiency

The port operators are facing growing challenges in optimizing resources. Spatial constraints, regulatory requirements, fiscal limitations, labor shortage and the growing demand for sustainability all call for resource optimization in ports.

These challenges drive the need for a strategic shift, where the primary focus moves from the physical size of the port to smarter operations and improved efficiency. Becoming “smart” is even more paramount today with the changing demands of global trade, creating new challenges for ports worldwide.


Tackling the environmental challenges

Aside from their economic importance, ports have adverse environmental effects, including air and water pollution, the exhaust of CO2 particles, greenhouse gas emissions, and traffic congestion.

The societal awareness of environmental issues is increasing, thus, ports are expected to balance economic growth with social and environmental impacts and integrate elements of sustainability into their operations to protect and sustain human and natural resources.

Imagine a terminal where…

There’s no more waiting

Vehicle passengers can arrive at the terminal just a few minutes before onboarding begins.

The pass-through is fast

In automated lanes, the pass-through takes 2 seconds, and in manual ticket booths, the processing time is decreased by 40%.

Everything is streamlined

Less congestion before the ticket booths and a reduced need for contracted traffic management.

Optimization saves time and resources

Increased throughput and optimized ship operations and terminal work will reduce pressure on staff and overall working hours, allowing resources to be allocated to more value-adding tasks.

The design is comprehensive, yet simple

Holistic view into terminal operations and easy-to-understand model with a minimized learning curve for terminal operators.


reduced waiting time during check-in and boarding


faster pass-through time via automated lines


net promoter score (nps) increased from 40% to 73% (2017 to 2020)


The terminal of the future

The Smart Port solution provides a fully automated, intelligent user experience from traffic and trade flows to operations and customer management. Orchestrating the data between hundreds of hardware units significantly improves the port area’s utilization and efficiency. Check-in and gathering area waiting times are reduced by more than 50% with pre-gate and real-time vehicle data, automated lane management, and loading area guidance. Thus, enabling faster traffic flow, lowering congestion, optimizing ship operations and terminal work, and servicing more departures at the same terminal area.


Ferry crossing that feels like a highway extension

Customer journey

The Smart Port solution provides passengers with a smooth, intuitive, and personalized experience when boarding the ship, including automatic traffic guidance through the port entrance and a unique unattended vehicle check-in system based on automatic license plate recognition. The entire check-in and loading process is covered, from online trip booking to the automated check-in procedures and automatic traffic management at the port area – right up to getting on the ship.


Passenger experience

Emma is a regular commuter who lives on New Bay Island and often travels to the mainland due to her work. As she likes to be mobile, she usually travels to the mainland by car.


Port area management with the click of a button

Customer journey

Smart Port enables efficient port area management by using large information displays that help to reconfigure the port area as needed. Various digital measurement sensors and automated gateways are used for flexible traffic guidance for passengers, staff, and port vehicles.


Operator experience

Ben is a terminal operator. He has been working at Smooth Ferries for eight years. He appreciates working outdoors and his lovely colleagues. In fact, he couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.


kg less co2 pollution and 330l fuel used per year (per 3.0l vehicle)*


personnel hours per year saved due to the decreased need for check-in and staging area staff


of employees are satisfied with the easy-to-use new system

Building a streamlined port area management

Technical solution

The Smart Port solution is an intelligent management server application that interfaces with various external systems and periphery devices, such as automatic number-plate recognition, measuring systems, traffic lights, barrier gates, and information displays, that improve traffic management at the port.

Furthermore, the Smart Port solution is adapted, scaled, and tailored according to the unique needs of every independent port, while integrating all the port area hardware units with a mix of technologies from ticketing, security, automation, etc., to third-party integrations constituting an open digital ecosystem.

The Smart Port intelligent traffic-flow and port area management solution is a Nortal-built concept developed in close cooperation with hardware vendors, mainly using Java technologies on top of the port’s hardware infrastructure.



Smarter operations and improved efficiency at Port of Tallinn

Port of Tallinn aims to become the most innovative port on the shores of the Baltic Sea by offering its customers the best environment and development opportunities. The goal is to minimize the time spent in the port by providing a fully integrated, all-inclusive, easy-to-understand service for passengers with vehicles, accelerated processes for cargo handling, and streamlined infrastructure for efficient day-to-day port area management.

Nortal has successfully implemented the Smart Port intelligent traffic-flow and port area management solution in eight different Estonian ports. The solution provides seamless check-in and boarding experiences for millions of passengers and cargo vehicles per year and clear traffic management at the port.

The Smart Port solution, developed by Nortal, has helped Tallinn Port to overcome its challenges by improving the utilization of the port area, simplifying and accelerating check-in processes, reducing waiting time, congestion and enhancing the user experience for passengers, along with a faster turnaround time for the ferry operators.

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